Gomes, Lester pace Red Sox to win
LOS ANGELES - Mired in a second-half slog and facing the hottest team in baseball, the Boston Red Sox needed a bit of a pick-me-up on Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
They got one before most Los Angeles fans walked through the turnstiles.
Jonny Gomes delivered a first-inning home run off Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jon Lester cooled a hot Los Angeles Dodgers lineup as the visiting Red Sox took the second game of a three-game series with a 4-2 win on Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.After a two-game losing streak followed a 15-1 spurt to open August, the Dodgers had rediscovered their winning ways with four straight wins, including a 2-0 victory over Boston on Friday night.The up-and-down Red Sox, 10-11 in August before Saturday, needed a dominant performance from Lester to stem the Dodgers' tide.
With a four-run cushion after one inning, Lester shifted into cruise control and shut down Los Angeles in 7 1/3 innings.
"Obviously, that's huge," Lester said of the Gomes' early offering. "Any time you're able to -- especially come into somebody else's park -- and take the lead before you take the mound, it lets your guard down a little bit in terms of trying to be too perfect. It lets you go out there and just try to attack the zone."
And that he did. Lester allowed just one hit through five innings and two through six in his second straight dominating start on the West Coast.
Five days after holding the San Francisco Giants to six hits in 8 1/3 innings in a 7-0 win, Lester allowed seven base runners and one runs while lowering his season ERA more than .20 points.
"For the most part, I commanded the ball pretty well," Lester said. "I moved my fastball around and got some weak contact from a good-hitting lineup."
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia said, "That's a great lineup, but he's been throwing the ball well. He's one of our guys; we're going to rely heavily on him down the stretch and in the playoffs."
The Dodgers managed to threaten late with two eighth-inning runs, but Koji Uehara shut down the last four batters for the save.
With one big bop from Gomes, Lester barely needed to break a sweat on the hot southern California afternoon.After Mike Napoli singled home Shane Victorino to stake the Red Sox a 1-0 lead just four batters into the game, Gomes followed with his 11th home run of the year. The three-run shot, which also scored Napoli and Pedroia, sent Ryu on his way to his second straight loss after a nine-game unbeaten streak (six wins).Led by Gomes, the heart of the Boston order delivered in a big way despite 13 strikeouts throughout the lineup.
Pedroia had two hits in the No. 3 hole, Napoli followed with three hits, one RBI and one run from the cleanup spot and Gomes and Stephen Drew each added hits to round out the Red Sox's production.
Ryu allowed five hits and four runs in five innings, just his third time this year he has failed to go at least 5 1/3 innings. But Dodgers manager Don Mattingly applauded his ability to stay in the game after Los Angeles almost reeled off another late-inning win.
"This guy knows how to pitch," Mattingly said. "He knows how to hang into a game; we've seen times when his stuff is not really sharp, but he knows how to pitch; changes speeds, gets a double-play ball or gets out of an inning.
"He really knows what he's doing. He's got the art of pitching. He was able to hang in there and give us a shot to get back in the game."
NOTES: Dodgers LF Carl Crawford sat out against the left-handed Lester, which is not atypical for Crawford. The leadoff hitter, acquired from the Red Sox in a trade last year, has sat eight times in 11 opportunities against southpaws since returning from the disabled list. ... Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz is scheduled for a rehab start on Sunday for Class A Lowell, and he is also scheduled to pitch Friday as he recovers from a right bursa sac strain that halted a brilliant start. Before being sidelined on June 9, Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 12 starts. ... Napoli rejoined the Red Sox lineup for the first time in eight days as he has battled plantar fasciitis in his left foot. With David Ortiz forced from his normal designated hitter spot for much of Boston's West Coast swing, Napoli has been relegated to the bench with Ortiz at first base. Ortiz was given the day off, though, and Napoli started and delivered.